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Student volunteers known as MD COVIDsitters deserve praise | READER COMMENTARY

Haley Suh, of Ellicott City, a rising junior majoring in neuroscience at the University of Maryland, College Park, is Hero of the Week. Suh is a volunteer with MD COVIDsitters, where student volunteers help essential workers with household needs including tutoring, babysitting and grocery shopping. July 22, 2020.
Haley Suh, of Ellicott City, a rising junior majoring in neuroscience at the University of Maryland, College Park, is Hero of the Week. Suh is a volunteer with MD COVIDsitters, where student volunteers help essential workers with household needs including tutoring, babysitting and grocery shopping. July 22, 2020. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun)

I was grateful to hear a piece of good news in the article, “While health care workers take care of coronavirus patients, these Maryland student volunteers are watching the kids” (July 29). These volunteers were categorized as heroes. I feel it important to mention, however, the psychological effect these COVIDsitters have on the families they are helping out.

At the beginning of this pandemic’s emergence, COVID-19 was said to be the great equalizer. Over time, this idea has been disproved. We know now that rather than be the great equalizer, COVID-19 has exacerbated inequities. Baltimore is no exception. For essential workers with families, we have been able to see a divide in who can afford to pay for safe child care while being able to go to work and who cannot. During this period of sustained stress, being able to have access to child care when one or more caretakers must go into work is critical. COVIDsitters have helped to bridge this gap and alleviated stress for many members of our community.

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Because of the switch to online learning, children are not afforded the same opportunities to connect with each other. Their peer-to-peer interaction is, at best, limited. Recess or playground time is no longer a part of students' school days. The COVIDsitters featured in your article take pride in being mentors and connecting with (and empowering) the children that they are watching. Choosing to develop relationships with these young children offers them the peer socialization that is needed in childhood development.

COVIDsitters deserve to be named as heroes of the week in The Sun, but not just for the convenience they provide, as was alluded to in the article. Their volunteer work does more than just provide convenience, it ensures the health of our community’s essential workers and the development of their children.

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Ilana Miller, Pikesville

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